With any significant loss–a death, a divorce, an estrangement, grief appears. Perhaps you’ve heard that grief has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. What you may not know if that not only are these steps of grief not necessarily linear, they’re also likely to pop up again from time to time, perhaps years later. Grief has no prescribed course; yes, it tends to get more bearable with time, but it may never completely go away. And it’s okay.
My father died tragically when I was still a teenager. I spent years in the denial phase, sure that I had already moved into acceptance before I had even begun to mourn. It wasn’t until I was in medical school that the anger and sadness surrounding his death took up residence in my life. And now, even well over a decade later, I still feel the sadness and anger from time to time. At other times, I’m filled with the immense love we shared, and the nostalgia of our memories.
Grief is dynamic, as are human relationships. Your grief may linger, just as mine has. I look at it as more of a friend these days, a powerful reminder of the human capacity to feel boundless love, and heart-breaking loss.